#69: Take the children to a roller disco

I put this on the list because I cannot think of many environments less appealing to enter than this. Noisy, dark, fast moving, requiring physical coordination, and crawling with excitable squealing children, on wheels, in a confined space, that I would then be unable to leave, until the bitter end. To compound my horror, my sister in law had found one that we could go to, at lunch time, on one of the most gloriously hot and sunny days of the year so far. Ideal!

So I went with extraordinarily low expectations. And was pleasantly surprised! In many ways the event was every bit as awful as I imagined, but there was a surprising amount of pleasure in it nonetheless. We took my 3 daughters and 2 nieces, all aged from 4-6, and they managed startlingly well!

The first round was challenging, due to the incompetence of our entire party. We stumbled and fell and dropped one another, and bumped into people, and took out small children by mistake. But with each circuit, there was a marked improvement.

Basically a disco is blaring, and lights are flashing, but you can still see pretty clearly due to the daylight flooding in through every window. Everyone skates round the edge of the sports hall, all in the same direction, (a worthwhile precaution, though collisions were still frequent). There were kids from about 4 up to teens, boys and girls, some with kit that suggested they were regulars – flashing skates, legwarmers and the like. My children were all in the wrong style of skate, with knee and elbow pads and helmets on, all of which betrayed a certain lack of experience.
children roller disco
I wish I had words or video to convey the hilarity of Rosie’s movement around the hall. Her legs were going back and forth as if she were running for dear life, yet she moved forwards barely at all. But she went round and round and round, hardly stopping in the whole hour and a half. Desperately trying to catch up with her older cousin, but being lapped, time and time again.

The youngest niece was like a newborn foal on wheels, if you can picture such a thing – a mass of limbs in all directions, but she didn’t seem troubled by it!

And of course I had to have a go myself. And doing that actually gave me a new respect for my children. Because it was a little bit scary, to find myself out of control, in a roomful of people, looking like a prize knob, and unable to propel myself where or how I wanted! I was wobbly and crap and fell over and it was all rather difficult! and not at all pretty!
me at roller discoAnd I thought, I am doing this once, in a deliberate attempt to challenge myself, which is of my own choosing, and afterwards I’m going to need a good sit down with a cup of tea to get myself together again. Yet I put the kids in this situation 4 or 5 times most days, of being pressured to try a thing that they don’t think they can do. Try this climbing frame (higher than you are comfortable with), walk this dog (even though you are scared of them), read this book (full of words you don’t know), say thank you to this person (who you are terrified to address), say something in French (when you are plainly intimidated), play with this child (who you have never met before)…. And they have no choice, and 9 times out of 10 they do just get on with it. And each time the attempt goes wrong they have to bounce back from it instantly, only to get hit with something else. No wonder they are exhausted by tea time most days! Respect!

#68: Go rowing

This was suggested by a friend, who assured me that if I came to her rowing club on a Saturday morning, I could be assured of exiting my comfort zone, in a good way. I assumed from that that it would be a thoroughly good work out. I was up for that. And indeed genuinely interested, I was actually thinking that rowing might be something I took up, for more than the one session.

The reality was anything but what I expected. For starters, my internet search, it turned out, referred me to the wrong rowing club. I didn’t realise until I checked the website a few minutes before leaving for the session. By then I had committed, via an email exchange with the membership secretary.

So I found myself on one of the lakes of Cotswold Water Park, at 9.45 on a Saturday morning, looking for signs of the rowing club. I asked a chap who was hanging around some boats, and he identified himself as the club captain. What a stroke of luck. Then I met the membership secretary, with whom I had corresponded. Then I met the Chairman! The big names were all in evidence. Everyone was friendly, though perhaps somewhat male, and aged. I looked in all directions for the rest of the membership. There was no sign. We chatted of this and that, and the gentlemen introduced me to their various boats. They explained the learning process, and all manner of terminology. A plan for my session was formed. In the end though I had to ask, ‘Does anyone else come?’ They rattled off a handful of names (all male). At its height, apparently, this club had as many as 12 members! Several however were sighted but rarely. And a couple of them were sufficiently advanced in years that they did not often take to a vessel these days.

I had imagined an assortment of lively folk, my friend among them, all sharing boats and organising themselves into 4s and 8s, a cacophony of boating enthusiasm to get caught up in. Instead, I was emptying water out of a rusty looking tub with 2 old men.

I also hadn’t really imagined that rowing would be very difficult. I don’t know why. I thought that the challenge of it was that it was hard physical work, and perhaps it was tricky to keep in time with the other rowers. It had never occurred to me that there was a skill to be learnt in actual rowing technique, or in keeping the boat upright. Yet there I was, sitting in a boat that a tsunami couldn’t capsize, with one-on-one instruction for an hour and a half, and I still couldn’t get the movements right. Oh dear. If I actually got in a proper rowing boat I’d be in the water in seconds. Thankfully that wasn’t on the cards for my first session.
I was relieved and surprised that it didn’t involve getting wet at all. I wore the same kit that I wear biking! And that was fine. But it was still a bit cold once we were out in the middle of the lake.

It was all really very surprising. Rather less fun than I expected in truth, less people, less banter, more difficulty, and far more of a learning curve if I did decide to take it up. And yet astonishing generosity from the people I did meet – the chap I went out with spent the whole morning doing nothing but tutor me, with no agenda other than to help.

Once again I am astonished at strangers’ generosity in helping me to do all these random things. But even so, I suspect that that one will remain in the realms of a one-off. Unless I ever do find the right rowing club!